Bolivia’s new government has announced that it will reintroduce visa requirements for US citizens and nationals of Israel.
Both Americans and Israelis have enjoyed visa exemption for Bolivia since 2019, when interim President Jeanine Áñez amended the list of visa-free nationalities. The aim of this was to stimulate tourism and investment in the country.
The country’s new President, Luis Arce is moving to undo this decree, citing that neither the US nor Israel have reciprocated the gesture for Bolivian citizens, who must still apply for visas to visit both countries.
This means that going forward, Americans and Israelis will once again have to apply for a visa to travel to Bolivia.
New Rules for Americans and Israelis Traveling to Bolivia
Travelers from the United States of America and Israel were granted visa exemption for Bolivia under the interim administration of 2019-2021, during a period of political turmoil in the country. The head of the provisional government, President Jeanine Áñez issued a decree in December 2019 allowing US and Israeli passport holders to enter Bolivia visa-free.
This has now been undone by the new democratically elected government of Bolivia, headed by President Luis Arce.
According to the new ruling:there is no sufficient and strong justification for amending the exemption lists and extending entry visas.
Americans and Israelis Who Can Enter Bolivia Visa-free
US and Israeli nationals who booked their trips to Bolivia before the new decision was announced have been granted an exemption.
After this date, all citizens of the US and Israel must apply for a visa before traveling to Bolivia.
Why Do US Citizens Need a Visa for Bolivia?
Diplomatic relations between the US and Bolivia are currently frosty. Neither country currently has an official ambassador to the other following events in 2007 and 2008.
Bolivia first introduced a visa requirement for US passport holders in 2007 due to a lack of reciprocity.
Then-President Evo Morales was unhappy that Bolivia was not in the US’s Visa Waiver Program and decreed that as long as Bolivian nationals required a visa to go to the United States, Americans would need a visa to enter Bolivia.
In 2008, the US ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg, was expelled from the country on charges of conspiracy. Washington then expelled Bolivian ambassador Gustavo Guzman in response.
This incident further soured relations and made visa exemption even less likely.
However, after political upheaval in 2019, when Morales was forced to resign, an interim government headed by President Jeanine Áñez took charge and dropped visa requirements for American nationals, on the basis that it would help the development of tourism and increase investment in Bolivia from the United States.
Despite this move, the US government has not returned the gesture and Bolivian citizens must still apply for a visa to visit the country. Current Bolivian
President Luis Arce has therefore decided to make visas obligatory for American citizens once again.
Why Do Israeli Citizens Need a Visa for Bolivia?
Similar to the case with the United States, relations between Bolivia and Israel have been strained in recent decades and this has contributed to the introduction of visa requirements.
In 2009, following a bombing campaign on Gaza by the Israeli government, which killed over 1,000 Palestinians, then-Bolivian President Morales broke away from relations with Israel, condemning its actions.
Despite the negative impact on tourism, Morales introduced a visa requirement for Israeli citizens in 2014.
Following the resignation of Morales and the establishment of the interim government, Israeli passport holders were granted visa exemption for Bolivia in December 2019 under a decree issued by President Áñez.
This has now been annulled by current President Arce due to the fact that Israel still requires Bolivian nationals to apply for a visa to enter the country.